Angie Coleman shares an excerpt from her new book, The Inheritance.

Holding the front door key doesn’t give me the same satisfaction that I thought it would. I know, I should look at the positive side of the situation: I can still sleep in my bed, nobody’s going to kick me out of the apartment and the rules will hopefully limit Jamie’s ability to annoy me. Everything could work out ok after all.

When I walked out of that diabolical solicitor’s office – I realised that Mr Orwell really is a diabolical man – I found out that Mrs Rochester, the lawyer who’s going to have to assess our progress on living together, is the woman who was in reception and introduced me to Mr Orwell. I bumped into her as I was heading to the lift and a glance into her eyes made me understand immediately that she’s going to be a tough referee. It will be impossible to fool her by lying about my cohabitation with Jamie, so I aborted my preliminary plan to just pretend we were sharing the apartment; I thought about doing this soon after hearing the final part of the will. Dad’s grave isn’t going to receive a single visit from me for at least the next ten years, that’s for sure. As for flowers – forget it!

Jamie is in the lift with me on the way out. We don’t say a word, he stands next to me impassively, and the lift (which seemed so beautiful on the way up) now feels like a horrible cage I want to escape from immediately. I glance at him in the mirror, hoping he can’t tell that I’m fuming.

“We’re going to establish some rules.” I announce.

“That’s for sure.” Jamie replies with a sneer.

“The apartment is big so we can definitely share it without stepping on each other’s toes.” I explain calmly. “Obviously, you’ll have my father’s suite with its own bathroom, I’m pretty sure that’s all you’ll need. The other three bedrooms are all mine, and so are the bathrooms. The garden and the living room are off limits for you, but you can walk through them of course. As for the kitchen, we’re going to split the storage and the space in the fridge. We’re going to decide on specific hours when we can each use the kitchen. Everything clear?”

“I hope you’re joking.” Looking at the hint of a smile on his face, he’s enjoying seeing me struggle. I turn towards him, I’m not afraid of standing up to him.

“I’m not joking at all.”

“How can you even think that I’d accept such an unfair arrangement? I seem to remember the word ‘sharing’ from the reading of the will. Is my memory failing me?” Jamie carries on in the same annoying tone while he stares at me. Does he really think that he has an ace up his sleeve in this situation?

“Yeah, your memory fails you. In an ideal world, you would have half of my house, and I would have half of your company. But you don’t want this to be an ideal world, right?” I say. He seems to be pondering the meaning of this. I’m sure he knows what I mean.

“Are you just determined to make my life difficult?” Jamie asks. He takes a defensive step backwards. Yeah, that’s exactly the reaction that I want from him.

“I’m a peaceful woman. Dad was completely fooled by you but I have no intention of falling into the same trap: your manners and your tricks won’t work with me. Keep your damn company and stay away from me.” I stare at the lift doors as they open to let me out.

I walk decisively towards the exit and raise my hand to hail a taxi. It’s still pouring down outside and my mood is even more miserable than the weather.

“My car’s parked right here,” Jamie says behind me, as if nothing had happened.

“Good for you.”

I hear him sigh impatiently, then the sound of his steps on the pavement tells me that he has finally decided to retreat. I’m glad that I won’t have to stand his oppressive presence on the journey back home.

Mrs Rochester told us that she would visit around lunchtime. The taxi pulls up and I begin to think about how I can find a way to let Mrs Rochester believe that everything will be shared fairly between me and Jamie. I have no intention of letting him get his grubby hands on any parts of the house other than the room where he will stay for the year. The rain hits the car windows and it distracts me so much that I’m even more irritated when I finally see the house again.

“I can get out here, thanks.” I say to the taxi driver, as he pulls up outside number 37. The man turns towards me with a dumb smile on his face.

“It’s forty-eight dollars and fifty-one cents please.”

I grab my handbag and reach in it to find my purse. Then I freeze as a sudden realisation hits me – I don’t have any money! Damn!

“I’m sorry, I…” I mutter to the taxi driver, who’s now looking a little concerned. I drop my handbag on the back seat and jump out of the taxi. Jamie is running towards the porch to shelter from the torrential rain. When he sees me, his face becomes even grimmer than it was before. Well, it’s not my fault if everything didn’t go as planned for him. We’re both in the same boat.

What happens when you are forced to live and work with your worst enemy?

 Twenty-four-year-old Ashley Morgan thinks her future is guaranteed when she takes over the reins of her family business. What could go wrong?

But when her father decides to give the job to Jamie Standley, his right-hand man, Ashley feels cheated and breaks off all ties with her father.

Three years later at the reading of her late father’s Will, she discovers to her horror that Jamie will continue to be director of Morgan & Hall, while she will only receive a small share in the business. But on one condition: that Ashley and Jamie work together and live under the same roof for a whole year…

Once again Ashley feels betrayed and cheated. To her, Jamie is an impostor and she is determined to make him pay. But forced cohabitation can sometimes have unpredictable consequences.

Angie Coleman was born in 1987 in Lanciano, Italy. She graduated from Organization and Social Relations at the University of Chieti. The Inheritance was the winner of the 2016 Ilmioesordio prize.

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